Ka Sohlyngem and U Rynniaw: A Tragic Khasi Folk Love Story

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Many millennia ago in the home of the Khasi tribe, also known as the HynniewTrep (seven huts) people. A time when animals, humans, supernatural entities, and spirits still wandered together in the same world. There were two young birds, Ka Sohlyngem and U Rynniaw who were deeply in love with each other. This is a tragic story of two lovebirds who were just not meant to be together.

Ka Sohlyngem is a bird who, even though is beautiful beyond words, still belongs to a poor wretched family. But she is aware of this and tries her hardest to be the respectable bird and daughter to her loving father. U Rynniaw, on the other hand, came from a highly privileged background. Though he doesn’t want that to define him, he just wants to be loved for who he is as an individual. To some, he was just ignorant or blissful about his stand in the village and society coming from a powerful family.

One morning on a beautiful day, Ka Sohlyngem went to her father and asked, “I want to help you with whatever you’re doing?” to which the father quickly replied “You are far too young, you’ll just get bored”. The mother who was doing her chores quickly interjected, “Just let her go with you once, she’s always asking what do you do anyway”. Father looked at Sohlyngem with her excited expression on her face and sighed, knowing he could never say no. Especially to the only precious thing in his life.

His daughter is the only reason he wakes up every day to an unfair life where everything seems to exist only to knock him down whenever he tries getting up.

While they were on the trip through the village square, another bird called U Rynniaw saw Ka Sohlyngem and couldn’t help but fall for her beauty. But as they were kids, they didn’t even understand what love meant. While his family were trying to sell their wares during this busy sngi-iew(Market day), he sneaks away while they were looking away. He went straight to Ka Sohlyngem to introduce himself. Ka Sohlyngem’s father was busy negotiating with the vegetable vendor when he noticed Rynniaw talking to his daughter. He shrugged it off as just kids having fun and continued with his arguments.

Ka Sohlyngem and her family
Ka Sohlyngem with her parents in their small house

U Rynniaw went up to Ka Sohlyngem who was busy humming her favourite tune while looking at an insect on the floor. He quickly said, “Hey, I really like your voice” and immediately cringed, being that was the first thing he could think of. He quickly gathered his composure and continued, “They call me U Rynniaw, what about you?”. Ka Sohlyngem being the gentle yet clever girl that she is, checks to see if her pa is nearby. She feels safe knowing he’s there and replies, “my mei and pa call me Ka Sohlyngem ”. After this brief introduction, U Rynniaw’s heard his parents calling him and immediately scoot away while shouting at Ka Sohlyngem that he’ll meet her later.

U Rynniaw scaring Ka Sohlyngem
A stream near Ka Sohlyngem’s house where U Rynniaw scared her

After a few weeks, U Rynniaw was flying through the forest on the outskirts of his village with his friends. He suddenly hears a familiar tune and immediately thought, “This voice, it must be Ka Sohlyngem”. He flew towards the direction of the tune and sees Sohlyngem next to a clear stream. She’s humming the tune that she loves while soaking her feet in the clear stream. He immediately jumps to surprise her, to which Ka Sohlyngem jumps in surprise and falls in the water.

U Rynniaw immediately apologises because he didn’t mean to go that far. He thought to himself, “Why do I always have to mess up whenever I see her?”. Ka Sohlyngem, seeing him profusely apologizing, quickly notices the atmosphere and laughs it off. U Rynniaw calms down seeing her laughing and feels relieved he did not mess up too badly in their second meeting.

After this, U Rynniaw knows where to find Ka Sohlyngem and goes there every day to play and have fun with. But as they grew older, they noticed this love that they have for each other. They were inseparable, and each day feels like their love only grows bigger. U Rynniaw’s family often travels from the hills to the plains for their business, so he always comes back with really interesting stories from their travels. Ka Sohlyngem would spend hours and hours on just listening to these stories.

After a few years since the two first met, rumours started spreading around the village about the father of U Rynniaw growing too old. And with this, talks were there about how U Rynniaw is now old enough to take over the family business. This also means U Rynniaw is now old enough to settle down and start his own family. U Rynniaw’s father went to his son and told him it is time for him to settle down with a bird of their stature in society. To which U Rynniaw sternly refuses and said he would always be with Ka Sohlyngem.

The father didn’t press on too far on the subject, but you can see the disappointment in his demeanour. After that, rumours started about how the son of the great family of the village spends his entire day in the forest. And usually with this classless poor girl who was barely living from hand to mouth. Somehow these rumours got to the ears of Ka Sohlyngem’s parents.

It shocked them to learn that their beloved daughter would even think of marrying U Rynniaw with all his trappings of luxurious life. They always knew about this friend their daughter had, but never imagined he’d be from the family with so much riches and influence. The chasm between the two families in terms of wealth and status in the society was so deep beyond words. 

It convinced the parents of Ka Sohlyngem that this union was not destined to succeed. They felt that this difference of wealth and class between the family will end up with their daughter being left by U Rynniaw. Maybe not now, but eventually, it will happen. Ka Sohlyngem’s father wanted to put a stop to their relationship but was not sure how to do that since he knows that his precious daughter will be sad. 

He became lost in thoughts and spent many sleepless nights. He tossed and turned, trying to find the right words and the right time to plead with his daughter. Plead her to stop seeing U Rynniaw for her own sake. 

Ka Sohlyngem and U Rynniaw having fun
The many days Ka Sohlyngem and U Rynniaw meet up and have fun.

One day while Ka Sohlyngem’s mother was serving lunch, she saw how much he’s suffering and while she’s serving his measly meal, she says, “I think you’re worrying too much about this, I’m sure Ka Sohlyngem is old enough to understand. You just need to be frank with her”. To which he quickly replies, “I don’t want to be that father who says and acts without thinking about how others feel first… especially if it’s my daughter”. He takes a sip of water taken from the same nearby stream where Ka Sohlyngem and U Rynniaw met the second time. He continues, “She will be heartbroken”. The mother tried to console, “It’ll only get worse if U Rynniaw has to leave our daughter in the future”.

With the support of this wife, he mustered up his courage and gently coaxed his only beloved daughter. He truly believes he must put a complete end to this unusual, almost insane relationship. 

“My beloved daughter, please do not continue with this relationship with U Rynniaw. You simply do not belong with him. He is of a different world, a world we can never afford.” Ka Sohlyngem kept quiet and just stares at the insect that happens to be crawling inside the house.

“Dearest daughter, I have a premonition that the union will not work. He might be the kindest and outstanding bird right now, but we never know what will happen many years from now. He may abandon you because of his riches. Where should we turn to in such an adversity?” 

She wanted to defend U Rynniaw and her love for him as she truly believes their love is true. But as soon as she looked up at her parents, she noticed sadness and trepidation. She saw the tired eyes of her father, who could not sleep many days in a row suffering over this subject. 

She realized that all she ever had since childhood was her parents, with their unfailing concern for her wellbeing. Ka Sohlyngem’s mother quietly consoled her daughter and told her “you will find a worthy fellow from our own class. He will take good care of you and perhaps he will take care of us too”. Ka Sohlyngem knew there was nothing she could do but accept the situation as it is.

Ka Sohlyngem flew to meet with U Rynniaw for the last time. “Rynniaw my beloved,” she said. “Our love is pure, but it is an impossible dream. My parents favour I should not continue with this relationship. We must stop seeing each other forever”. U Rynniaw was distraught and remained silent for a while. He tried to convince her to think about it, but to his dismay, Ka Sohlyngem looks determined to follow her father’s wishes. 

He looked at Ka Sohlyngem and said solemnly, “I do not wish to hurt your parents. I do not like to be the reason for their miseries. Goodbye sweetheart, we shall not meet again forever.” He darted away into the high skies and disappeared from her sight for eternity. 

Ka Sohlyngem crying for U Rynniaw
Ka Sohlyngem crying “huhuhu” whenever she remembers U Rynniaw

Ka Sohlyngem was heartbroken and inconsolable as she cried her heart out.

Whenever she longs for U Rynniaw, she will weep and moan “huhuhu, huhuhu” lamenting for losing her beloved U Rynniaw. You can hear her crying even today if you’re near the forest where her poor little house stands.

This is a special NEOtakus rendition which may differ from the same folktale you might have already heard/read elsewhere. If you enjoyed our rendition of the short folk-tale, be sure to share it around. The bigger the number of readers, the bigger the chances we will do more like these stories. We want to promote our own culture and hopefully others as well later on.

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One Comment on “Ka Sohlyngem and U Rynniaw: A Tragic Khasi Folk Love Story”

  1. Hi, can you please tell me the source of the article? The name of the original book you have referred to would be helpful.

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